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Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation—sometimes referred to as "getting your tubes tied"—is a permanent form of birth control. During the surgery, the fallopian tubes are blocked or cut to prevent pregnancy. It can be done in a hospital or an outpatient clinic.

Things to Consider

Since tubal ligation is a permanent form of birth control, if you are unsure if you will want to become pregnant in the future, this may not be a good choice for you. This may also not be a good option if you think you may have a new partner in the future, and that relationship might make you reconsider getting pregnant.

After the procedure, you will still have periods and normal sex habits do not need to change. However, since tubal ligation does not protect from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it’s important to continue to practice safe sex.

For some women, regardless of their age, if they are concerned they could pass on a genetic disorder to a child or if pregnancy would pose a significant threat to their health, tubal ligation is an option. Your gynecologist can consult with you on the benefits and risks associated with tubal ligation, and discuss other birth control options if tubal ligation is not right for you.

Prior to the Procedure

Prior to the procedure you will receive an intravenous line (IV) that delivers medicine that will make you relaxed and sleepy. Some women have general anesthesia, which allows you to be asleep, for the procedure, but others have a local or spinal anesthesia, allowing you to remain awake.

If you are having general anesthesia, you may also get medicine through the IV to put you to sleep. If you are having local or spinal anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will give you a numbing agent in your abdomen or your spinal area so you do not experience pain.

During the Procedure

A tubal ligation procedure usually takes about 30 minutes. Your gynecologist will make a small incision close to your belly button and sometimes in your lower abdomen as well. In order to provide your gynecologist the best view and ample space, gas may be pumped into your belly to inflate it.

Your gynecologist will insert a narrow tube called a laparoscope, which contains a light and camera, into your abdomen. Next, they will insert thin instruments into the laparoscope to find and secure the fallopian tubes. The gynecologist will then either cut, tie, band or clamp your fallopian tubes. Some gynecologists seal them with an electric current.

Your gynecologist will then remove the laparoscope and will close up your incision with a stitch or stitches, then cover the area with dressings.

After the Procedure

After your surgery, you will go to a recovery room where a clinician will observe you and take your vital signs while you recover from the anesthesia. In most cases, you will be able to go home on the day of surgery.

Your gynecologist will give you instructions to follow after you get home. Some discomfort is normal for a few days after tubal ligation, but your physician can recommend some medicines and steps to take to help reduce pain.

You should avoid heavy lifting for a few weeks, but otherwise, most normal activity can resume within a few days. If you have pain that does not go away, or have any other issues after the procedure that concern you, contact your gynecologist right away.